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Solomon Alabi highlights front-court players in predraft workout

Solomon Alabi is 7 feet 1, so it was peculiar when during the final drill of another round of predraft workouts for the Washington Wizards today, he stepped behind the three-point line to attempt a shot that would have concluded his portion of the session. Alabi tried a couple times to no avail, and finally, he decided to alter his approach. Thus he stepped well inside the three-point arc, sank a jumper from the elbow and was done.

If the Wizards draft Alabi, they certainly won't expect him to take shots from that distance. He's no Dirk Nowitzki, and Alabi knows his future in the NBA is as a shot-blocker and imposing inside presence who occasionally can contribute on offense.

"No, not really," Alabi, who played at Florida State, said with a smile when asked if he would be taking three-pointers in the NBA. "Right here I was just trying to make it a little fun."

Alabi was among a handful of players, most notably in the front court, who worked out for the Wizards at Verizon Center four days before the draft. Others included center A.J. Ogilvy, a 6-11 center from Vanderbilt; 6-11 forward-center Magnum Rolle of Louisiana Tech; and Samardo Samuels, a 6-9 forward projected for the mid-second round in some mock drafts.

Alabi's stock has risen since the start of this process. Projected as a second-rounder after the NCAA season, Alabi figures to go perhaps mid- to late first round in a league where some high-profile 7-footers prefer shooting from the outside over defending on the interior.

While it's not likely Alabi will be available when the Wizards make the final selection of the first round, Samuels probably will be there and is all but certain to be available with the 35 overall pick, which Washington also owns.

Samuels came out of high school as one of the most touted players in the country but did not live up to expectations over two seasons at Louisville. That's why the Cardinals fan base and Coach Rick Pitino were caught a bit off guard when Samuels declared for the draft.

Still, Samuels, despite being undersized at power forward, could blossom into a physical presence the Wizards were sorely lacking last season after dealing Brendan Haywood, among others, to Dallas in a trade deadline deal.

"I think I'm way better than I was before," said Samuels, who averaged 15.3 points and seven rebounds per game last season. "My workouts have been going really well.

"The extra year, it [helped] my body as far as having an NBA body, getting stronger, getting quicker, stuff like that. Now I kind of know my game, what I am good at, what I'm not good at, my strengths and weaknesses."

By Gene Wang  |  June 21, 2010; 2:47 PM ET
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Posted by: JustinChuck189 | June 21, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

i would love for the Wiz to get a big guy that can play. Alabi is big and would definitely have a presence, but he won't be able to score inthe NBA other than put backs and dunks. I would just like the Wiz to field a team of guys taht can play. 6-8 or 6-9 with hustle and skills is more important than a specialt players with little upside. Speaking of upside, no premature babies that they hope will grow. Wall has proven he can ball. No more young projects unless they've shown they can ball like Wall. Samuels sounds like a 5-year project like Blatche has become.

Posted by: simplewords999 | June 21, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"Alabi is big and would definitely have a presence, but he won't be able to score inthe NBA other than put backs and dunks. "

Realistically, the odds of finding a big guy who can do more than that with the #30 or 35 pick is slim to none. Big guys with real size and low post skills don't last until the 2nd round.

Posted by: kalo_rama | June 21, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

It's probably going to take a deal up in to the 18-25 range to get Alabi, since Ernie brought him in this late, something could be cooking.

That kid is really long, and he knows how to use his length on defense. Does a pretty good job of staying on the floor and making the offensive guy commit before jumping.

He's played some good games in a tough conference and has improved every year. His footwork is ahead of McGee's already, he's not going to jump out of the gym like McGee. But he's been a good post defender that held his position pretty well at the college level.

He'll need to put on some more strength to compete in the NBA, but he's definetly got rotation potential.

Last half of the first round that's about all you expect.

Samuels was a case of not being worth what Louisville paid for him, buyers remorse. Quess they should have inked him to a three year deal to get a return on their investment.

Longterm he's got some upside, though this is a case where a guy like Booker may completely out work him. And have a better attitude as a role player off the bench.

Most mock drafts don't even have Rolle listed, was this a case of Ernie liking what he saw the first time and then cross checking by bringing him back for a look on a day when a first rounder like Alabi was in the building?

At 25 I still think he's a FA signee.

I'd tend to think the Wiz could go big in the draft and then fill in around the picks with some second and third tier FA signees. I'll be surprised if there's a "name" FA signed.

Ted's going to market his Rookie Class...

Posted by: flohrtv | June 21, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Most mock drafts don't even have Rolle listed, was this a case of Ernie liking what he saw the first time and then cross checking by bringing him back for a look on a day when a first rounder like Alabi was in the building?
Posted by: flohrtv

Could be that. I was also thinking that they just might have needed an extra warm body to even out the drills, and Rolle obliged hoping to get a little FA consideration.

Posted by: ts35 | June 21, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

What happened to V. Vermeenko that EG drafted?

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | June 21, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Look, if you're going to have a guard oriented offense (and it looks like we will), then you can't expect to have a big man inside looking for touches. Our center is going to have to be a defensive and rebounding machine. The only offense we'll want from him is putbacks and dunks. So to me, sounds like a perfect fit. I haven't seen the kid play, but if he can rebound and defend, he's just what the doctor ordered.

Posted by: Matte | June 22, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

He's still playing in Russia, mainly as a reserve. He's 26 now and I don't think his game has progressed enough where the Wiz are interested in bringing him over. He's still not physical enough to be a 4 and he's not athletic or a good enough deep shooter to hold down the 3 spot in the NBA.

Posted by: ts35 | June 22, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Check that, looks like he might have started more this season.

Posted by: ts35 | June 22, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

As for Alabi, I have a hard time believing he gets past the Celtics based on what happened to them in the Finals. With the Perkins injury, Rasheed likely retiring, and the problems they had with the Lakers 'length' inside, Alabi makes a lot of sense for them.

Obviously they have a lot of other issues with an aging roster and Ray Allen being a FA. Certainly they could use a lot of the PG/SG or SG/SF types who will be abundant where they pick, but I think they can fill those needs other ways. Since they don't need their C to be a scorer, Alabi should be able to get court time right away.

Posted by: ts35 | June 22, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

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